The curious incident of the missing disability ramp

I often travel by train on London NorthWestern Railway, I ride The Tike to my local station, flash my disabled person’s travel card, and buy a ticket. The staff check which train I am catching and my destination. When the train arrives at the station a member of the staff puts up disability ramp up to give me easy access onto the train and notifies the guard of my destination. Let me tell you about the curious incident of the missing disability ramp.

Northampton University

I set my alarm for 6.30, the start of a very long day. Covid pandemic has caused chaos with the placements of the student nurses. I will spend all day as a confused patient with a broken femur in a mock-up ward and the nurses must treat me. A simple but tiring day that finishes at 3.30

Catching the train back

I ride The Trike back to Northampton station staying in the shade as much as possible, such a hot day. I’m at the at the station by 3.45. I explain that I had not pre-booked access for my travel and I’m going to Berkhamsted, a 45 minute journey.

“No problem sir. The next train leaves in 20 minutes and is already at the platform. My colleague will call Berkhamsted and arrange for a ramp when you arrive. If you make your way down to the platform now someone will be with you in a few minutes”. Everything sounds very professional.

On the train, going home, and its air conditioned. My luck was in.

The curious incident of the missing disability ramp

Fifty minutes later the train arrives at Berkhamsted but no sign of any staff with the ramp and it is a very big step down from the train.

“I can’t get off the train with The Trike. The step down to the platform is too far” I say to myself in a very loud voice.

A passenger worth his weight in gold helps me and The Trike off the train, I thank him profusely. Thank goodness, it really is my lucky day.

The next day

I’m due at the University again. At the Berkhamsted ticket office I recounted my tale of woe. They were very apologetic and explained they shut the station on Tuesdays at 1pm and followed all the correct procedures.

At the University I am now a diabetic patient diagnosed with sepsis but I lived. When I returned to Northampton station I spoke to them about yesterday’s problem. No disability ramp at Berkhamsted station and the staff followed procedure. The problem was obviously with Northampton. I am sure the guard was not told me, a disabled passenger.

I phoned up London NorthWestern Railways the following day and explained about the curious incident of the missing disability ramp. Both stations are designed to be fully accessible but potentially I was totally stranded at Berkhamsted. They are going to investigate the problem. They will accept responsibility and refund the cost of my ticket. Hopefully no more incidents of the missing disability ramp.

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Associated articles

Berkhamsted station is step-free







Train travel for the disabled




July 2021


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